The Etsy Blog

Featured Shop: knife in the water

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

My name is Seung yun Yoo and I live in Seoul, Korea. I make hand-printed home textile goods inspired by my plain but beautiful surroundings for my shop, knife in the water.

I find inspiration from collected images and objects. I love to visit flea markets and traditional marketplaces to find beautifully imperfect things with a history. Their individuality is a happy surprise that always excites me. Many parts of my collections are inspired by old movies. My shop is named after Roman Polanski’s first black and white film, which has been my favorite for many years.

For me, getting an idea for the collection is actually the hardest and longest part of the whole creative process. Once I have something in my head, everything flows smoothly from there. I start drawing the images on my computer and collect swatches from fabric vendors. After finalizing the print image, I have my screen and fabrics ready and the actual printing process starts.

My mother was an artist, and I grew up surrounded by paint smells, drawing tools, and many great art books. I think I always wanted to be a person who creates things with their hands. In college, I studied fashion design and got to learn screen printing. That’s when I started to make my own images and put them on t-shirts and fabrics. Making them one-by-one made me the printer I am today. Later, I found that my mother also did much of her work using silkscreen, and that I had a plenty of resources to start on my own.

After moving back to Korea and hectic and uninspiring mass-production day jobs, Etsy was my after-work shelter. Admiring many unique handmade artworks and watching the small makers find their place to stand and grow really inspired me. I made my mind up to quit my unhappy life and decided to do something I really liked.

A year later, I opened my Etsy shop and started to sell my printed items. It’s so surprising and amazingly encouraging that people from different countries and different cultures see your creations and buy them. It gave me a great deal of confidence to keep on doing what I love, and opened my eyes to the proud ownership of being a maker. I’m so glad to be a part of this hardworking creative community.

Most of all, I’m very happy with what I do. There are still lots of challenges producing hand-printed goods and running things all by myself, but doing what I love repays every bit of effort.

All photographs by knife in the water.

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  • lauraprilltoo

    Laura Prill from lauraprilltoo says: Featured

    Love the way you described working your Etsy shop as a "shelter". I think that for many of us, our creative life and being a part of this community has truly given us a place to grow and live. Best wishes to you!

    2 years ago

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams says: Featured

    I love the modern, clean style of your designs. They reflect the time and work you put into the design process. Wonderful to then take those designs and make useful, functional art that becomes part of the home and style of the owner. Like you, I grew up in a home where art and handmade was a way of life, and have tried to model that for my kids too. It's inspiring to see how you have succeeded with creating your life in a way that makes you happy, creates lovely products, and brings something valuable and treasured to your customers around the world. Thank you for sharing your story, and wishing you continued success!

    2 years ago

  • TigerLiliGems

    Julia Berg from PetiteMortShop says: Featured

    I can't tell you how good it feels hearing stories like yours, from way across the globe. it's like we are beating the old system somehow creating something new. I love the way you take pictures, with the items in their natural surrounding, and all those little iconic atmospheric objects, like the picture of your mother or grandmother, it just warms my heart :) by the way, I love your shop! goodluck! J

    2 years ago

  • aromacandles

    Laura from aromacandles says: Featured

    I absolutely adore your choices of fabrics and designs, they are all right up my alley! I absolutely understand being in a meaningless job with high stress... that is no way to live and I'm so happy you broke free from it. There is nothing better in life than to be doing what you love, everyday. Thank you for sharing a little bit of yourself with us, and a huge congrats on a well deserved FS!

    2 years ago